Do you think it’s simple to listen to your hunger & fullness cues to tell you when and how much to eat? News flash: For most people, it’s not! It takes practice to develop that higher level of attunement with your body. By applying Intuitive Eating principles to your daily life, listening to hunger cues can become a trusted signal telling you that it’s time to eat a meal or snack. It also takes practice to allow your fullness level to signal when you would like to stop eating.
Simply by starting to check in with your body and observing what it feels like to be hungry can be a good starting point. In my nutrition groups, I’ve asked a lot people what symptoms they feel when they’re hungry. A common one is the growling stomach. But I also hear “shaky, dizzy, nauseous” very often. That’s a ravenous hunger, and if you feel this type of hunger frequently, you are probably not eating enough at meals, or you are waiting too long to eat or skipping meals/snacks.
Hunger / Fullness Rating Scale
(1) Ravenous hunger
(empty, numb, shaky, dizzy, nauseous)
(2) Extreme hunger
(cranky/moody, headache, painful emptiness in stomach)
(3) Moderate hunger
(urgency to eat, stomach growling, pleasant cues to eat)
(4) Mild hunger
(comfortable, slight signs of hunger, cravings/thoughts of snacks/meals)
(no body or mind cues to eat)
(6) Slight fullness
(feeling of food in stomach, not yet satisfied)
(feeling full and comfortable)
(8) Uncomfortable fullness
(expanded stomach, pressure in belly, overly full, adjusting body position or clothing to improve comfort level)
(9) Extreme fullness
(bloated stomach, sleepy, uncomfortable, unbuttoning clothing or loosening belt buckle to improve comfort level)
(10) Painful fullness
(extreme body discomfort, sharp or dull pain in stomach, nauseous, miserable)
Proceed with caution in feeling hunger or fullness at the ends of this rating scale. As you start to check in with your body more, it will be easier to stay within the sweet spot between 3-7 (for the most part). However, if you are recovering from an eating disorder, substance abuse, or GI issues, or many other diagnoses… you may frequently experience the extreme fullness on this scale, and that’s understandable as your GI tract recovers. Still take care of yourself, and feed yourself regular meals. If you are frequently feeling fullness in your throat, that can be a sign that something is not quite right with your digestion, and you should seek help from your doctor and/or dietitian.
P.S. if you are tired of numbers, check out @peacewithfoodapp
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